I liked Eliza Carthy's latest album, Angels & Cigarettes, so much that I had to special order this one. Carthy fills that void that Kate Bush's ten-year absence from the CD release rolls has left, at least for me. Her voice doesn't have quite the range, and she may not be as quirky, but her instrumental talents are fierce (she plays the violin and piano) and her songwriting is strong. Plus, coming from the traditional folk roots of her parents, her take on some of the handed-down songs seems a little more organic than Bush's try at things like "My Lagan Love."
Red, as I understand it, is the more modern of the two disks, yet it still contains at least four songs that come from traditional sources ("Billy Boy/The Widdow's Wedding" [is that a British spelling for Widow?], "Stingo/The Stacking Reel," "Greenwood Laddie," and "Mrs. Capron's Reel"). The "single" from this album, the rolling piano and drums of "Walk Away," was a finalist for the Mercury Prize, and it is a strong song, slightly reminescent of the Corrs, yet not quite as produced nor as simple. The other possible single is "10,000 Miles," which uses a repetitive violin signature before giving in to a combo acoustic guitar/drum progression to keep its momentum.
This is the kind of album that sneaks up on you in repeated listenings, where the songs insinuate themselves in your head and you start humming them before you realize it. That's not to mean that all of the songs are hummable--some of them use an off-beat synchopation that's more appropriate for active listening (like "Greenwood Laddie") than pleasant background. It's a strong album, worth checking out if you've liked Carthy's other work.